Udara Jayamini

Feb 25, 2021

5 min read

The process of the Internet

In the last few decades the internet is become a most popular concept in the society. Due to the internet having the ability of contacting and sharing knowledge among the world wide. Although most of the people use that internet facility, they do not know how the internet is working properly. In this article I am going to discuss about how internet works and how your data reach the your mobile phone/laptop.

Easiest way of the obtaining data from the data center which can be thousands of miles away from you is use of satellites. From the data center, a signal could be sent to the satellite via an antenna, and then from satellite a signal could be sent to your mobile phone via another antenna near to you. Such a long distance of travel causes a significant delay in receiving the signal. Although that is a easiest way , due to some problems we have to move another option. Let’s see why? Due to the satellite is parked nearly 22000 miles above the earth’s equator, for the successful data transmission the data would have to travel a total distance of 44000 miles. More specifically it causes huge latency which is unacceptable for most internet applications.

Then what is the mechanism the internet used for the data transmission? The internet works using the complex network of optical fiber cable. Your phone could be connected to the internet via cellular data or any Wi-Fi router, but ultimately at some point your phone will be connected to this network of optical fiber cables. The data is stored in a solid-state device (SSD) within the data center and this SSD acts as the internal memory of a server. The server is a powerful computer which is responsible for providing the relevant data when you request it.

Let’s see how this is done. Before proceeding further, we should first understand an important concept which is the concept of an IP address. Every device that is connect to the internet whether it is a server computer or a mobile phone is identified uniquely by a string of numbers known as an IP address. IP address acts as a shipping address through which all information reaches its destination. The internet service provider will decide the IP address.

The server in the data center also has an IP address. The server stores a website so you can access any website just by knowing the server’s IP address. So, to solve this problem domain names like youtube.com, facebook.com etc. are used which correspond to IP addresses which are easier for us to remember than the long sequence of numbers. Another thing to notice here is that a server has the capability of storing several websites and if the server consists of multiple websites all the websites cannot be accessed with the server’s IP address. In such cases additional pieces of information, host headers are used to uniquely identify the website. However, for the giant web sites like facebook.com or youtube.com the entire data center infrastructure will be dedicated to the storage of the particular website. To access the internet, we always use domain names instead of the complex IP address numbers. From where the internet gets IP address corresponding to our domain name requests. Well, for this purpose the internet uses a huge phone book known as DNS. Your internet service provider or other organizations can manage the DNS server.

Lets have a recap on all operation. You enter the domain name, the browser sends a request to the DNS server to get the corresponding IP address. After getting IP address, your browser simply forward the request to the data center, more specifically to the respective server. Once the server gets a request to access a particular website the data flow starts. The data is transferred in digital format via optical fiber cables, more specifically in the form of light pulses. These light pulses sometimes have to travel thousands of miles via the optical fiber cable to reach their destination. During the journey they often have to go through tough terrains such as hilly areas under the sea. There are a few global companies who lay and maintain these optical cable networks. These visuals show how the laying of optical fiber cables is done with the help of a ship. A plow is dropped deep into sea from the ship, and this plow creates a trench on the seabed, and to which places the optical fiber cable. In fact, this complex optical cable network is the backbone of the internet. These optical fiber cables carrying the light are stretched across the seabed to your doorstep where they are connected to a router. The router converts this light signal to the electrical signal. An ethernet cable is used to transmit the electrical signal to your laptop. However, if you are accessing the internet using cellular data, from the optical cable the signal has to be sent to a cell tower and from the cell tower the signal reaches your cell phone in the form of electromagnetic waves. Since the internet is a global network it has become important to have an organization to manage things like IP address assignment, domain name registration etc. This s all managed by an institution called ICANN located in the USA.

One amazing thing about the internet is its efficiency in transmitting data when compared with cellular and landline communication technologies. All the information sent by the Google data Center is sent to you in the form of huge collection of zeros and ones. What makes the data transfer in the internet efficient is the way in which these zeros and ones are chopped up into small chunks known as packets and transmitted. Let’s assume these streams of zeros and ones are divided into different packets by the server where each packet consists of six bits. Along with the bits of the video each packet also consists of the sequence number and the IP addresses of the server and your phone. With this information the packets are routed towards your phone. It is not necessary that all packets are routed through the same path and each packet independently takes the best route available at that time. Upon reaching your phone the packets are reassembled according to their sequence number. If it is the case that any packets fail to reach your phone and acknowledgement is sent from your phone to resend the lost packets. In the internet we use something called protocols for the management of this complex flow of data packets. The protocols set the rules for data packet conversion, attachment of the resource and destination addresses to each packet and the rules for routers etc for different applications the protocols used are different.

I hope you got the lots of valuable information about the internet by reading this article. Thanks for reading!